“GOP finally found some voter fraud”: Mark Meadows registered to vote at an N.C. "dive trailer"

Meadows claimed to live in a “dive trailer” in North Carolina where he doesn’t appear to have spent a single night

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published March 7, 2022 4:20PM (EST)

Mark Meadows listens as US President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns in Gastonia, North Carolina, October 21, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
Mark Meadows listens as US President Donald Trump holds a Make America Great Again rally as he campaigns in Gastonia, North Carolina, October 21, 2020. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows claimed to live in a small mobile home in North Carolina on his voter registration form, potentially violating voting laws, according to The New Yorker.

Meadows, who played a key role in boosting former President Donald Trump's debunked lies about widespread election fraud, possibly committed voter fraud himself by listing his primary residence as a 14-foot-by-62-foot mobile home in Scaly Mountain, North Carolina — where he may not have spent a single night — weeks before the state's voter registration deadline, according to the report.

Meadows, who previously represented a North Carolina district in Congress, sold his 2,200-square-foot home in the town of Sapphire, when he became Trump's top aide in March 2020. In September of that year, three weeks before the state's voter registration deadline, he listed the mobile home on a line of the form that asked for the residential address "where you physically live."

"GOP finally found some voter fraud," quipped former Solicitor General Neal Katyal.

RELATED: Jan. 6 committee says Mark Meadows' "hokey pokey" has slowed down plan for primetime hearings

The home's former owner told the New Yorker that she did rent the property to Meadows' wife Debbie for about two months in the last several years but that Debbie had only "spent one or two nights" there. The couple's children also visited the property at some point, she said.

But Mark Meadows "did not come," she said. "He's never spent a night in here."

The former owner, who asked not to be named, ultimately sold the property to Ken Abele, who told the outlet that it was "really weird" that Meadows put the address on his voter registration.

"That's weird that he would do that," Abele said, noting that he had to make a lot of improvements on the property since purchasing it. "When I got it, it was not the kind of place you'd think the chief of staff of the President would be staying," he said.

Meadows was one of Trump's top lieutenants in his campaign to overturn his election loss based on repeatedly debunked allegations of voter fraud. Meadows after the election pressed the Justice Department to investigate Trump's unfounded voter fraud claims, including those already rejected by the courts. He also repeated the discredited fraud lies in his recent memoir.

Listing false information on a voter registration form is a federal crime. The New Yorker report noted that the Trump White House website used to link to a Heritage Foundation document listing cases of voter fraud, many of which included people who listed false residential addresses.

Melanie Thibault, the director of the board of elections in North Carolina's Macon County, told the New Yorker that she was "dumbfounded" that Meadows had listed the mobile home as his primary residence.

"I looked up this Mcconnell Road, which is in Scaly Mountain, and I found out that it was a dive trailer in the middle of nowhere, which I do not see him or his wife staying in," she said.

But Thibault said that only a candidate or another voter can challenge a voter's address. These challenges "can be tough to win and are not frequently brought."

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

Gerry Cohen, a former lawyer for the state legislature who helped write the voter-challenge law and now sits on the Wake County Board of Elections, said voters must list a "place of abode" on their registration where they have spent at least one night.

"If Debra Meadows stayed there a single night, and Mark Meadows didn't stay there, then he didn't meet the abode test," Cohen told the New Yorker.

Cohen said a voter could also show intent to live at the residence for an extended period of time with a driver's license, tax form, or utility bill. "It's a question of intent and evidence," he said.

But the home's previous owner said the home "didn't even have a mailbox." Abele, who has since installed one, said he has never received any mail for the Meadowses.

Cohen also noted that voters cannot list an address where they have not moved yet. Meadows listed his move-in date as the next day after the date on his voter registration form. Such violations are rarely caught or enforced.

"Meadows potentially committing voter fraud pretty much sums up the GOP's 'election integrity' campaign in a nutshell," tweeted Olivia Troye, who served as an adviser to former Vice President Mike Pence. "As always, hypocrisy at its finest."

It's unclear why Meadows registered at a North Carolina address where he did not live, rather than in Virginia, where he and his wife own a condo. There was speculation that Meadows would run for the seat of retiring Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., but he ultimately decided against it.

It would not be the first time that Meadows, a former real estate developer, may have misled the public about his property holdings. Meadows reportedly violated congressional ethics guidelines while serving as the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus by not listing his ownership of 134 acres in Dinosaur, Colorado, nor his sale of the property to notorious creationist Ken Ham's Christian nonprofit, which sought to use fossils recovered there to prove that Earth was created in six days, The New Yorker reported in 2019.

"There appear to have been multiple reporting violations that occurred over a long period of time," congressional ethics lawyer Brett Kappel told the magazine at the time, noting that Meadows had failed to list the property on any of his financial disclosures since running for Congress in 2012.

After leaving the White House, Meadows joined the Conservative Partnership Institute, a Washington nonprofit that aims to move the Republican Party even further to the right, several months before the House voted to form its committee to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Shortly after that, Trump's Save America PAC donated $1 million to the group, a donation that NBC News reported stood out "both for its size and for its timing" as Meadows refused to cooperate with the panel and was held in contempt of Congress. Several months later, the Meadowses bought a $1.6 million lakefront estate in Sunset, South Carolina, according to the New Yorker, though Thibault told the outlet that their voter registration remains linked to the Scaly Mountain mobile home.

Many observers accused Meadows of hypocrisy for pushing Trump's fraud lies while potentially violating voting laws himself.

"It appears Mark Meadows knows all about voter fraud in 2020 because he committed it himself," tweeted former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, a key figure in the Watergate trial. "This is a remarkable story of apparent criminal behavior by Trump's chief of staff. But I suspect voter fraud is the least of his offenses!"

Read more:

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Big Lie Donald Trump Mark Meadows Politics Voter Fraud